On the sidelines of CyFy 2019 conference, Mr. Sean Kanuck, CEO EXEDEC LLC shared his views about data protection and AI with Newsd.
Mr Kanuck served as US National Intelligence Officer for Cyber Issues from 2011 to 2016. Sean came to the National Intelligence Council after a decade long experience in the Central Intelligence Agency’s Information Operations Center. Sean has also practiced law with Skadden Arps in New York, where he specialized in mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, and banking matters.
You mentioned during a panel discussion, people are becoming scared with regards to technology and that they have less confidence in the government. How can governments and technocrats make citizens confident in Artificial Intelligence and other aspects of technology?
Sean Kanuck: First I think the citizens are both excited and concerned about technology. Excited about the opportunity it brings for development, economic opportunity and personal realization. At the same time we are increasingly aware of the possible negative manipulations of data and technology that could be averse. Conjoined with the issue that we have, questions about confidence in government and obviously nationalist tendency or corrupt action by different governments from time to time. The question to alleviate those fears is incredibly important. Technology underpins everything we are doing in our societies today.
Part of the message here at CyFy we are looking to discuss is, in this world of increasing anti-globalist tendencies or insecurity, how do we overcome that? And the answer I believe is increased transparency in the technology itself, for example, with artificial intelligence greater understanding of the algorithmic processes themselves, of the data they have been trained on. We are increasingly learning that the data and algorithms can be biased based on how they are created by human beings who have their own inherent bias. We need to be aware of all those things first, that is the transparency element and I think we need to have a society and even a global level discussion on what we want these rules, technologies we utilise, how we want to implement them. I think there should be a much more transparent public discussion.
You have worked in cybersecurity and with intelligence agencies for years. The current situation comes as a major challenge for intelligence agencies, as now they have the power to understand this data. How can the citizens be given more transparency with regards to the working of the intelligence agencies?
Sean Kanuck: It is true, a fair portion of my career was spent in the US intelligence community cyber threat analysis work. I appreciate those concerns. We have certainly seen public discussions of both US intelligence activities and other countries’ intelligence activities, not the least of which is has been the whole public discussion of Edward Snowden. His efforts to reveal things the US government may or may not be doing. I appreciate those concerns, at the same time I’d add the observation, we fear that the big brother government states have so much information, in many cases its the private sector companies who may have even more personal information on you, so I don’t think its just an intelligence issue, I think its a, who owns data, data privacy question of which the government and its intelligence aspects are one example.
Now, to directly address the question is to be fair, I think it all comes down to oversight and democracy.
Both the United States and India are robust democracies and while we have different cultures and political systems, I think there is an interest in having people known what their government is doing. Not every secret detail of every activity but to understand the principles that are behind, to understand the citizens rights to confront their government if they feel they have been treated unjustly or if they feel their civil rights have been violated. So, its a delicate balance that’s may not be the most helpful answer but its the correct one.
You have to strike an appropriate balance in the society and you need an affirmative oversight, you need the politicians, the secret services to be responsible to the public and have the public have an opportunity to know what’s going on.
I can think of some European states for example that are champions of human right but whose own members of Parliament do not have a constitutional legal right, to know what their intelligence agencies are doing.
They do not have the kind of oversight opportunity that the US Congress does over the US Intelligence community. I won’t board that the US is the best at anything or always correct. At a few places, I think we have a better oversight than some other countries do, and I would encourage everyone to do the same because even in our system we found wrongdoing from time to time.
Has the internet become more secure over time or rather insecure? There are tech companies that have immense power to monitor you at every moment, at the same time we have also seen huge security developments, like the HTTPs revolution which started few years back.
Sean Kanuck: I am not sure if the security architecture of the internet itself as we know it has changed that much over time. It is fundamentally insecure, it was designed for functionality and lot of hardware and software it’s based upon is again designed for functionality and not security. What I do think we have seen is the growth in its ubiquitous use in every aspect of our life, in our economies, in our national security and military have let us realise that the insecure architecture may not meet all of the needs we have. Think about financial transactions, we started to realise we want areas for strong authentication and identification, that is not the internet was originally designed for. We have started to realise in the security context in the personal privacy context that we want new elements were work hardwired in the initial systems. So I see two opportunities, first, you try to go back and re-engineer the existing internet or you try to re-engineer a new version of the internet; or you work through other regulatory, political or legal means to regulate or control how society actually utilises the internet or what individual’s rights are within it.
Quite frankly neither would be a correct solution, first due to economic in-feasibility and the second may not completely do the job we are hoping it for. I think its a tough situation, it’s an important topic to address. The internet in itself was designed in an insecure fashion partly by purpose and we are coming to realise that doesn’t necessarily fulfill all of the uses we are trying to apply it to.